ExamScan - Digitized Graded Exam Delivery at U-M

Box Certified Professional

My colleagues and I from the University of Michigan were recently recognized for our ExamScan solution leveraging Box, and my Box CSM encouraged me to share the story – so here it is!



The ExamScan project at the University of Michigan began in response to an unusual case of cheating on a chemistry test. After the exam, a student downloaded the exam answer key, manipulated it with Photoshop, and then handed it in as an exam for a regrade. This was discovered when the instructor noticed the paper stock was of a different grade than the exam paper. Clearly the time-consuming measures in place to preserve the integrity of the exams were no longer effective.


Handwritten exams are critical to assessing student achievement. But with classes up to 1800 students, problems arise:

  • Students pick up graded exams from department offices, taking up valuable staff time and storage space.
  • Instructors and Graduate Student Instructors have to take time-consuming measures to prevent students from changing answers after the fact.


Our largest college, the College of Literature, Sciences and the Arts (LSA), reached out to the Information and Technology Services (ITS) to develop a solution.


Our ITS team had the following goals:

  • Provide simultaneous, secure access to digitized graded exams for instructors and students.
  • Streamline the exam grading and re-grading processes.
  • Enhance exam grading integrity.
  • Eliminate time-intensive process of returning multiple exams accurately to large classes.


Our answer was ExamScan, a solution to scan and return all exams to students electronically via Box:

  • LSA delivers the graded exams, barcoded with student uniqnames, to ITS.
  • ITS Imaging scans the exams to Box, naming each with student and exam identifiers.
  • The ITS Collaboration Services team runs a script that creates a secure folder for each student, assigns permissions, and moves digitized exams to the folders.
  • Students receive an email saying exams are available.
  • Students and instructors can review (and comment) on exams anytime, anywhere.




This solution was piloted in two chemistry classes in 2015 and has grown to 18 classes and some 10,000 students. Instructors reported that they saved time (15-100 hours per exam), while maintaining 100% accuracy and integrity of exams. And students preferred electronic return over paper 3:1.


As a result our efforts, we received the prestigious 2017 President’s Staff Innovation Award: Team Award for our ExamScan solution for empowering large classes to conduct literature-based, data-driven examinations (as opposed to multiple choice testing) efficiently and cost-effectively!


Here’s how we set up Box as part of the solution:

  • Only Owners and Co-Owners can invite collaborators – prevents instructors from exposing files in error.
  • Disabled all email notifications for all collaborators – prevents spamming instructors when files are added to student folders.
  • Created a Course folder – where instructors have access to all student files.
  • Created separate folders for each student – student only has access to their own files.
  • Created an Archive folder – when term is over, course folders moved here to be used by the instructor for research, removing it from active use.



Here’s a video on the impact of ExamScan service on faculty teaching:



Our mission at ITS is to provide technology and communications services in support of UM-Ann Arbor's academic and research needs. ITS Infrastructure services form the foundation for many other communications and computing activities on campus. I’m extraordinarily proud of the work we did on ExamScan, and the impact it has on teaching and learning at the University of Michigan!



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